Coin Kid: a look into one freshman’s unexpected hobby


Photo by Jake Krantz

Krantz took his love for coin collecting outside of his YouTube channel and attended a numismatic conference in Baltimore in 2022.

Tyler Portnoy, Guest Writer

As freshman Jake Krantz searches through the coins he has splayed across his desk, he isn’t just looking for a nickel or dime. As a coin collector, Krantz is searching for a piece of history.

Collectors like Krantz look for coins that are very old or that have production defects, which enhances their value.

Krantz has been collecting coins for two years now. He started after a friend brought a coin to summer camp, claiming it was worth thousands of dollars. Excited, Krantz went through a piggy bank and found ten nickels that matched his friends. Although all of the coins ended up only being worth five cents, this one encounter led Krantz to discover a passion for coins.

“To me, it’s not just about being able to make some money,” Krantz said. “It’s about meeting people in the coin collecting community, whether that’s in person, online, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, whatever. Being able to network and also holding a piece of history. I even have coins in my collection as old as 1792.”

Krantz explained that numismatists, or coin collectors, get their coins at places like banks, pawn shops and coin shows. He said he enjoys going to coin shows not just to bargain for coins, but to connect to others in the coin collecting community.

Just over a year ago, Krantz released his first YouTube video about coins. The video, aptly titled “Live opening of a half dollar roll. Will there be silver?” features an unwrapping of a pack of coins his mother had picked up from the bank. Krantz would post two more videos that day (“Is this gold?’ and “1980 gold”), but his channel wouldn’t gain traction until about three months later. 

Krantz’s Jan. 25, 2022 video entitled “Loaded nickel roll” currently sits at 8,770 views. His next video, from Feb. 16, 2022 has 15,316 views (and counting), titled “P Over P Mint State War Nickel Found Coin Roll Hunting?!”.

While Krantz collects all types of coins, his favorite is half dollars, hence his YouTube channel’s name, HalfDollarHunter. His channel currently sits around 1800 subscribers and grows each day.

While Krantz does the majority of his coin-collecting work, his mother, Tracy Krantz, often helps him. Due to the pandemic, there is a coin shortage in the DMV area, and as such there are only a few banks where he can get his coins. He picks up batches of coins from the same bank every Friday. However, because the bank closes at 4 p.m., Tracy picks up these batches while Krantz is in school.

Once a new batch arrives, Tracy brings it home, and she watches as Jake begins his process. After he gets the coins, he looks through them and tries to find silver coins or coins with special dates since some years are more valuable than others. Once he is finished and has separated the special coins from the batch, he rewraps the coins he is not interested in and brings them back to the bank.

Other than picking up batches, Tracy recently brought Jake to the Whitman Expo, a coin show based in Baltimore. 

“Different coin dealers and coin shops [all] have these coins to sell and there’s literally millions of coins that you could look through if you look through all of them,” Tracy said.

Over the summer, Jake attended a program in San Francisco called “Witter Coin University.” According to Jake, it was a week-long program for students ranging from ages 13-21. At the program, they learned from expert numismatics who came in and talked to them about how to know when a coin is valuable and how to estimate its worth. 

“I wouldn’t say it’s really just a hobby,”  Jake said. “It means you are someone who cares about history, wants to make a quick buck and do something fun.”